Greek-American entrepreneur rises to lead SYRIZA, sparking party tensions

Greek-American entrepreneur rises to lead SYRIZA, sparking party tensions
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Stefanos Kasselakis' surprise takeover rattles established political landscape.

by Nikolaos Stelgias

In a dramatic turn of events that has shaken Greece's political landscape, Stefanos Kasselakis, a Greek-American entrepreneur relatively unknown in the country until recently, has assumed the leadership of SYRIZA, the country's second-largest party. He succeeds former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Born in 1988 in Maroussi, Attiki, Kasselakis has a diverse background in business and politics. His official biography reveals his role as a founding member of the non-profit online platform "CVfromGreece". He has also written articles for various publications over the years. As the current CEO of the shipping company "Farlie Maritime," Kasselakis is a testament to his entrepreneurial spirit in the maritime and technology sectors. His recent stint as an investment analyst at Goldman Sachs further solidifies his credentials.

Educationally, Mr. Kasselakis is a graduate of the prestigious Wharton School of Business, University of Pennsylvania, where he studied finance. He also pursued international studies at the University's College of Arts & Sciences. Mr. Kasselakis was a fellow in the Huntsman Program, which deepened his academic engagement at the Wharton School and the College of Arts & Sciences.

In addition to his academic and entrepreneurial pursuits, Kasselakis has a long history of political involvement. He volunteered for then-Senator Joe Biden's campaign during the 2008 presidential election. He has experience working at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a prominent foreign policy think tank based in Washington, DC.

But Kasselakis' rise hasn't come without turbulence. His liberal profile has ruffled feathers in the euromarxist faction of SYRIZA. The rumblings of dissent grew so strong that there was almost immediate speculation of a possible split in the party following his election.

In the wake of these internal tensions, Achtsioglou, once touted as SYRIZA's next leader before Kasselakis' surprise candidacy, extended an olive branch. "The vote for me was the greatest honor of my life," she said after the results were announced, stressing his commitment to a robust opposition to conservative New Democracy.

However, the mood remains mixed. Former Finance Minister Efklides Tsakalatos, known to support Achtsioglou, underlined the party's challenges. Stelios Kouloglou, a SYRIZA MP, echoed his sentiments and lamented to the Guardian: "This is the end of SYRIZA as we know it; this party died tonight".

Amid this upheaval, SYRIZA's official newspaper, AVGI, called for unity in a post-election editorial and emphasized the party's upcoming challenges, including local and European elections.

With the unexpected rise of Kasselakis, Greece is watching closely as a new era dawns on SYRIZA and its position on the national stage.